†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Criswell Theological Review 4.1 (1989) 3-20.
Copyright © 1989 by The
†††††††††††††††††††† THE STRUCTURE OF
†††††††††††††††††††††† 2 CORINTHIANS 1-7
††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††CRAIG BLOMBERG
†††††††††††††††††††††††† Denver Seminary, Denver, CO 80210
Paulís epistles are generally among the clearest of the NT writings
to outline. After struggling to identify the principles which guided the
gospel writers to arrange parallel pericopae in seemingly conflicting
sequences, or after puzzling over the complex interplay of theology
and ethics in Hebrews and most of the general epistles, the expositor
breathes a sigh of relief when he comes to the letters of Paul. Romans
divides neatly in two after chap. 11, with the previous chapters in turn
subdividing relatively unambiguously according to the stages of God's
plan of redemption for the world. First Corinthians reads like a
checklist of controversial issues in
ing in order to items raised by the messengers from Chloe's household
and chaps. 7-16 replying to questions in a written letter from the
Corinthian church to Paul. Even the shorter epistles usually acknowl-
edged as Pauline, with Philippians as a possible exception, generally
fall into two or three main sections with discernible progressions of
thought within each of these.l
††††††††††† Second Corinthians, therefore, stands out all the more strikingly
with its unparalleled lack of apparent structure and unity. The two
sections which most commentators agree hang together as unified
wholes, chaps. 10-13 and 2:14-7:4, follow so abruptly from the pre-
ceding material that they have regularly been regarded as entirely
††††††††††† 1 See esp. U. Wilckens, Der Brief an die Romer (EKKNT 6/1-3;
Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1978-82); C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First
Epistle to the
(London: Black, 1968); H.-D. Betz, Galatians
1979); B. Rigaux, Les
epftres aux Thessaloniciens
4 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
separate letters interpolated into their present contexts.2 A third much
shorter section, 6:14-7:1, seems intrusive even for many supporters of
the unity of the rest of chaps. 1-9.3 On any scheme Paul seems
preoccupied more with discussing his travel plans, his apostolic au-
thority, and the Corinthians' attitude toward him than with conveying
any lofty theological truths.
††††††††††† The purpose of this paper is not to review all the various theories
which have arisen to account for these phenomena, nor even to
address the problems of the letter's structure beyond those of the first
seven chapters. Rather it is to suggest what I believe is a new ap-
proach to the question of the outline of 1:12-7:16 and to point out the
implications of such an outline for certain issues of interpretation and
integrity. I will take for granted as largely uncontroversial the iden-
tification of the first eleven verses of the epistle as introductory saluta-
tion and thanksgiving, and I will follow the traditional consensus
which sees chaps. 8 and 9 as a relatively discrete section on the
collection for the saints in
link earlier material more closely with it.4 The structure which I will
propose for the intervening six-and-one-half chapters depends on an
understanding of this section as an extended chiasmus.
††††††††††††††††††††††† I. Criteria for Detecting Extended Chiasmus
††††††††††† Not too many years ago chiastic or inverted parallelism was
scarcely discussed in examinations of the outline of major sections of
Scripture, being viewed simply as a poetic device for short Hebrew
couplets. Today, parts of almost every book in Scripture have been
outlined chiastically, with many of the proposals straining all bounds
††††††††††† 2 For detailed, recent surveys of the various proposals, see V. P. Furnish, II
Corinthians (AB 32A; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984) 29-54; R. P. Martin, 2 Corin-
thian (Waco, TX; Word, 1986) xxxviii-Iii.
††††††††††† 3 E.g., W. G. Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament (
1975) 291-92; L. T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986) 292; C. Kruse, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corin-
thians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 37-40.
††††††††††† 4 Furnish (II Corinthians, 392) takes 7:4-16 as an introduction to chaps. 8-9 and as
part of a larger section of appeals from 5:20-9:15. C. K. Barrett (A Commentary on the
Second Epistle to the
division entitled "Paul's plans for
other hand, H.-D. Betz (2 Corinthians 8 and 9. [
an important opposing tradition which finds the disjuncture between chaps. 7-8 so
great as to assume that chap. 8 begins a new letter. Betz's case remains unproved, but it
at least demonstrates the major caesura in Paul's outline at this point."
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS †††††††††5
of credulity. In his II Chiasmo nella Bibbia, A. di Marco has compiled
a voluminous catalog of likely and unlikely hypotheses from modern
scholarship through the mid-seventies.5 J. Welch's anthology, Chias-
mus in Antiquity, also offers a number of improbable proposals but
nevertheless succeeds in demonstrating the widespread use of chias-
mus in both prose and poetry, both Hoch- and Kleinliteratur, through-
out the ancient Near East.6 Two observations emerge from di Marco's
and Welch's works. First, chiasmus was used far more widely in the
ancient world than it is today, so that it likely underlies numerous
portions of Scripture where it has not usually been perceived. Second,
because chiastic outlines have become so fashionable among biblical
scholars, any new hypotheses should be subjected to a fairly rigid set
of criteria before being accepted. Yet I know of no study which has
mandated detailed criteria which hypotheses of extended chiasmus
must meet in order to be credible.7 I propose the following nine
criteria, therefore, as sufficiently restrictive to prevent one from imag-
ining chiasmus where it was never intended:
††††††††††† (1) There must be a problem in perceiving the structure of the
text in question, which more conventional outlines fail to resolve. This
criterion singlehandedly casts serious doubts over many recent pro-
posals.8 If a more straightforward structure can adequately account
for the textual data, recourse to less obvious arrangements of the
material would seem, at the very least, to risk obscuring what was
††††††††††† (2) There must be clear examples of parallelism between the two
"halves" of the hypothesized chiasmus, to which commentators call
attention even when they propose quite different outlines for the text
overall. In other words, the chiasmus must be based on hard data in
Biblica 36 (1975) 21-97; 37 (1976) 37-85; 44 (1979) 3-70.
Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976)
44-75; A. Stock, "Chiastic Awareness and Education in Antiquity," BTB 14 (1984)
††††††††††† 7 D.
promises more than he delivers, suggesting merely that one look for a combination of
parallels in form, content and language, and spends most of his time discussing only
one example, that of J. Dewey on Mark 2:1-3:6.
††††††††††† 8 E.g., P. M. Scott, "Chiastic. Structure: A Key to the Interpretation of Mark's Gos-
pel,"BTB 15 (1985) 17-26; K. E. Bailey, "The Structure of 1 Corinthians and Paul's Theo-
logical Method with Special Reference to 4:17," NovT 25 (1983) 152-81; M. Girard, "La
composition structurelle des sept signes dans Ie quatrieme evangile," SR 9 (1980) 315-24.
More straightforward outlines of Mark, 1 Corinthians, and John adequately account for
the textual data.
6 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
the text which most readers note irrespective of their overall syn-
thesis. Otherwise it is too simple to see what one wants to see and to
impose on the text an alien structural grid.9
††††††††††† (3) Verbal (or grammatical) parallelism as well as conceptual (or
structural) parallelism should characterize most if not all of the cor-
responding pairs of subdivisions. The repetitive nature of much bibli-
cal writing makes it very easy for general themes to recur in a variety
††††††††††† (4) The verbal parallelism should involve central or dominant
imagery or terminology, not peripheral or trivial language. Ancient
writers often employed key terms as catchwords to link passages
together, although the material they considered central does not al-
ways match modern preconceptions of what is important.11
††††††††††† (5) Both verbal and conceptual parallelism should involve words
and ideas not regularly found elsewhere within the proposed chias-
mus. Most unpersuasive proposals fail to meet this criterion; while the
pairings suggested may be plausible, a little ingenuity can demon-
strate equally close parallelism between numerous other pairs of pas-
sages which do not support a chiastic whole.12
††††††††††† (6) Multiple sets of correspondences between passages opposite
each other in the chiasmus as well as multiple members of the chias-
mus itself are desirable. A
common to so many different forms of rhetoric that it usually yields
few startlingly profound insights.13 Three or four members repeated
in inverse sequence may be more significant. Five or more elements
††††††††††† 9 This would seem to be a major problem for K. A. Strand, "The Eight Basic
Visions in the Book of Revelation," AUSS 25 (1987) 107-21. A more natural parallelism
would pair the seven seals and seven bowls with the seven trumpets in the middle. Cf.
also the very vague parallels suggested by K. Grobel, "Chiastic Retribution-Formula in
Romans 2," Zeit
und Geschichte (FS. R. Bultmann;
††††††††††† 10 Thus weakening the hypotheses, e.g., of E. S. Fiorenza, "Composition and
Structure of the Book of Revelation," CBQ 39 (1977) 344-66; and S. J. Kidder, "'This
Generation in Matthew 24:34," AUSS 21 (1983) 203-9.
††††††††††† 11 The most comprehensive study on catchwords remains M. Jousse, Le style oral
rhythmique et mnemotechnique (Paris: Beauchesne, 1925, 1981). Much NT writing with
these kinds of links resembles various kinds of Jewish midrash; on which see R. T.
France and D. Wenham, eds., Gospel Perspectives III: Studies in Midrash and Histori-
ography (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983).
††††††††††† 12 I have emphasized this point in my "Midrash, Chiasmus, and the Outline of
Luke's Central Section," in ibid., 217-61. See, e.g., the proposals of M. D. Goulder, "The
Chiastic Structure of the Lucan Journey," TU 87 (1964) 195-202; C. H. Talbert,
Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts (
Scholars Press, 1974) 58-65; Bailey, Poet and Peasant, 79-85.
††††††††††† 13 But see below n. 51.
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS †††††††7
paired in sequence usually resist explanations which invoke subcon-
scious or accidental processes.14
††††††††††† (7) The outline should divide the text at natural breaks which
would be agreed upon even by those proposing very different struc-
tures to account for the whole. If a proposed chiasmus frequently
violates the natural "paragraphing" of the text which would otherwise
emerge, then the proposal becomes less probable.15
††††††††††† (8) The center of the chiasmus, which forms its climax, should be
a passage worthy of that position in light of its theological or ethical
significance. If its theme were in some way repeated in the first and
last passages of the text, as is typical in chiasmus,16 the proposal
would become that much more plausible.
††††††††††† (9) Finally, ruptures in the outline should be avoided if at all
possible. Having to argue that one or more of the members of the
reverse part of the structure have been shifted from their correspond-
ing locations in the forward sequence substantially weakens the hy-
pothesis; in postulating chiasmus, exceptions disprove the rule!17
††††††††††† These nine criteria are seldom fulfilled in toto even by well-
established chiastic structures, so it would seem these controls might
actually be too rigid. But granted that some exceptions should be
permitted, the more of these criteria which a given hypothesis fails to
meet, the more sceptical a reception it deserves. Conversely, a hy-
pothesis which fulfills most or all of the nine stands a strong chance of
reflecting the actual structure of the text in question. Considering a
small spectrum of recent proposals not already mentioned in the notes
above, and without defending each application in detail, I would thus
††††††††††† 14 For one attempt to give precise statistical quantifIcation to judgments of this
type, see Y. T. Radday, "Chiasmus in Hebrew Biblical Narrative," in Welch, Chiasmus,
50-117, esp. the appendix, 116-17.
††††††††††† 15 Here is a major
problem with P. F. Ellis, The Genius of
Liturgical, 1984). John 4:39-45 is not really detachable from 4:4-38 (or else vv 39-42
should go with 4-38 and 43-45 with 46-52). Cf. also the unusual outline of R. Morgen-
thaler, Die lukanische Geschichtsschreibung als Zeugnis (Zurich: Zwingli, 1948) 1:156-57.
††††††††††† 16 On interpreting chiasmus in general, see the pioneering work of N. W. Lund,
Chiasmus in the New
1942). More recently, but much more briefly, cf. J. Breck, "Biblical Chiasmus: Ex-
ploring Structure for Meaning," BTB 17 (1978) 70-74.
††††††††††† 17 Thus calling into question, e.g., D. R. Miesner, "The Missionary Journeys
Narrative: Patterns and Implications," Perspectives on Luke-Acts (ed. C. H. Talbert;
Analysis of the Architecture of Jn 1, 19-5,47" CBQ 32 (1970) 341-66. Talbert correctly
recognizes that not all structures are perfect in form, but he does not distinguish between
ruptures which do not call into question an overall outline and those which do. More
nuanced is H. V. D. Parunek, "Oral Typesetting: Some Uses of Biblical Structure," Bib 62
8 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
assess A. Culpepper's view of John 1:1-18 as highly likely;18 †P. Davids'
approach to the Epistle of James as quite plausible even though more
complex than a simple inversion;19 K. Wolfe's analysis of Luke-Acts as
attractive, though fairly general;20 H. J. B. Combrink's outline of
Matthew as at least slightly more convincing than current alternatives;21
my own work on Luke's central section as at least no worse than the
alternatives;22 A. Vanhoye's treatment of Hebrews as not terribly
helpful;23 D. Deeks on the Fourth Gospel as much too vague and
subtle;24 and J. Bligh on Galatians as painfully forced and hopelessly
elaborate.25 These examples could be multiplied, with the less con-
vincing ones outweighing the more convincing, but they provide a
sufficient sample for comparison with the proposal for 2 Corinthians
1- 7 put forward here.
††††††††††††††††††††††† II. The Outline of 2 Cor 1:12-7:16
††††††††††† The outline to be submitted to these nine criteria for evaluation is
A ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A'
†† 1:12-22--the Corinthians can ††††††††††††††††† ††††7:13b-16--Paul can rightfully boast
††††††††††† rightfully boast in Paul ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in the Corinthians
B ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† B'
†† 1 :23- 2: 11--grief and comfort over ††††† ††††7 :8-13a--grief and comfort over
††††††††††† the painful letter; hope for ††††††††††††††††††††††††† the painful letter; joy after
††††††††††† forgiving the offender ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† forgiving the offender
††††††††††† 18 R. A. Culpepper, "The Pivot of John's Prologue," NTS 27 (1980-81) 1-31.
††††††††††† 19 P.H. Davids, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 22-29. The
principal criterion not met is (8).
††††††††††† 20 K. R. Wolfe, "The Chiastic Structure of Luke-Acts and Some Implications for
Worship," Southwestern Journal of Theology 22 (1980) 60-71. Criteria (3) and (6)
would seem least satisfactorily met.
††††††††††† 21 H.. J. B. Combrink, "The Structure of the Gospel of Matthew as Narrative,"
Tyndale Bulletin 34 (1983) 61-00. Criteria (3), (4), and (5) are all in doubt, but all the
rest are met very nicely.
††††††††††† 22 Blomberg, "Midrash." All nine criteria are met but the biggest problems revolve
around the source-critical hypotheses required.
††††††††††† 23 A. Vanhoye,
La structure litteraire
de fepitre aux Hebreux (
1963). Vanhoye's structure is not entirely chiastic, based on subtle connections between
proposed "catchwords," and overly complex.
††††††††††† 24 D. Deeks, "The Structure of the Fourth Gospel," NTS 15 (1968) 107-29. Few of
the proposed correspondences are close, and the resulting outline is an unlikely hybrid
of synonymous and antithetical parallels.
††††††††††† 25 J. Bligh, Galatians in Greek (Detroit: University of Detroit Press, 1966). Bligh
postulates as many as five overlapping levels of concentricity, with the vast majority of
his correspondences being extremely vague.
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS †††††††9
†† 2:12-13--looking for Titus in ††††††††††††††††† ††††7:5-7--finding Titus in
D ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† D'
†† 2:14-4:6--a series of contrasts-- †††††††††††† ††††6:11-7:4--a series of
††††††††††† belief vs. unbelief, centered on †††††††††††††††††† contrasts-belief vs. unbelief,
††††††††††† Christians as the letters of the ††††††††††††††††††† centered on Christians as the
††††††††††† living God, in glory being ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† temple of the living God, in light
††††††††††† transformed into his image †††††††††††††††††††††††† being transformed into his
†††† a 2:14-16a--death vs.life ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††a 6:11-13--widen your hearts
†††† b 2:16b-3:3--false vs true ††††††††††††††††††††† ††††b 6:14-7:1--separate yourselves
††††††††††† approaches to ministry ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† from uncleanness
†††† c 3:4-18--old covenant vs. new † †††††a' 7:2-4--open your hearts
†††† b' 4:1-2--false vs. true'approaches
††††††††††† to ministry
†††† a' 4:3-6--darkness vs. light
E †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† E'
†††† 4:7-5:10--surviving and triumphing ††††† ††††6:1-10-surviving and triumphing
††††††††††† despite every hardship (see esp. †††††††††††††††† despite every hardship (see esp.
††††††††††† vv.8-10) †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† vv.8b-10)
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† 5:11-21-the theological climax:
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† the ministry of reconciliation
It would seem that this outline satisfies all nine criteria remarkably
††††††††††† (1) The difficulty in following Paul's train of thought and the in-
adequacy of previous outlines is readily admitted by most commen-
tators. Toward the beginning of the century, for example, A. Plummer
††††††††††† With regard to the letter itself it is better to talk of 'contents' rather than
††††††††††† 'plan.' Beyond the three clearly marked divisions (i.-vii.; viii., ix.; x.-xiii.)
††††††††††† there is not much evidence of plan. In these main divisions the Apostle
††††††††††† seems to have dictated what he had to say just as his thoughts and
††††††††††† feelings moved him, without much consideration of arrangement or
††††††††††† logical sequence.26
Due to the occasional nature of the epistles, there is nothing inherently
implausible in this, except that Paul regularly seems rather more
organized. A digression like Phil 3:2-4:7 might provide a partial
††††††††††† 26 A. Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of I
10 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
parallel for a section such as 2 Cor 6:14-7:127 but hardly for one as
substantial as 2:14-7:4. An outline which avoids such digressions, if a
reasonable one can be found, would seem to be preferable. Yet a
survey of current analyses which attempt to do more than simply label
the paragraphs in sequence without any assessment of coordination
and subordination28 regularly reveals the recourse to postulating major
and minor digressions of various sorts. In addition to 2: 14- 7:4 and
6:14- 7:1,29 C. K. Barrett is forced to call 5:1-10 on the resurrection of
the believer "a digression illustrating further the relative unimportance
of the earthenware container,"30 V. Furnish admits that he views 1:18-
22 on Paul's integrity in his promises "a somewhat ponderous excur-
sus,"31 and W. Schmithals finds a sufficient break after 6:2 to split
2:14- 7:4 into two separate letters at that point.32 Surely one ought to
welcome proposals that would improve on these. R. Martin is on the
right track when he labels 2:14-7:4 "the main theme" of the letter rather
than a digression, but the shifts from one section to the next remain as
abrupt as ever.33
††††††††††† (2) As the outline indicates, there is no problem demonstrating
conceptual parallelism between the forward and reverse sequences of
the chiasmus. The objects of boasting vary from A to A', but the
purpose of Paul's expressions of confidence remains the same in each
case: to "state the view of the writer that he hopes his readers now
have or will gain from the commendation."34 B and B' obviously
††††††††††† 27 Philippians has also given rise to theories of multiple letter fragments, but see B.
Mengel, Studien zum Philipperbrief (WUNT 2/8; Tubingen: Mohr, 1982). Cf. W. J.
Composition and Unity of Philippians," NovT 27 (1985) 141-73; D. F. Watson, "A
Rhetorical Analysis of Philippians and Its Implications for the Unity Question," NovT
30 (1988) 57-88.
††††††††††† 28 As e.g., in P. E.
Hughes, Paulís Second Epistle to the
Eerdmans, 1961); J. Hering,
La seconde epitre de
Neuchatel: Delachaux et Niestle, 1958); H. Lietzmann, An die Korinther 1/11 (HNT 9;
Tiibingen: 1969); R. H. Strachan,
The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians
Hodder & Stoughton, 1935); J.-F. Collange, Enigmes de la deuxieme epitre de Paul aux
Corinthiens (SNTS 18; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972).
††††††††††† 29 Even those who argue for the unity of the epistle regularly refer to these
sections as digressions. See e.g., M. J. Harris, "2 Corinthians," (EBC 10; ed. F. E.
of Paul to the Corinthians (London: Tyndale, 1958) 29-30; F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2
Corinthians (London: Oliphants, 1971) 214.
††††††††††† 30 Barrett, Second Corinthians, 51.
††††††††††† 31 Furnish, II Corinthians, 141. N. Hyldahf ("Die literarische Einheit des 2 Korin-
therbriefes," ZNW 64  296) includes v. 17 as part of the digression.
††††††††††† 32 W. Schmithals, "Die Korintherbriefe als Briefsammlung," ZNW 64 (1973) 288.
††††††††††† 33 Martin, 2 Corinthians, xxxvii.
††††††††††† 34 S. N. Olson, "Epistolary Uses of Expressions of Self-Confidence," JBL 103
(1984) 596. Cf. idem, "Pauline Expressions of Confidence in His Addressees," CBQ 47
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS ††††††11
belong together in all attempts to understand the offending party at
The similarity between 2:12-13 and 7:5-7 is the very reason why the
intervening text has been labeled an interpolation or a digression.35
The catalogs of Christian hardships which are ultimately overcome in
4:7-12 and 6:3-10 are regularly compared as among the most poignant
in all of Scripture.36
††††††††††† The least obvious pair matches 2:14-4:6 with 6:11-7:4. Still, both
of these sections linger long on the clear-cut contrasts between true
and its opposition: false teachers in
responses by the Corinthians, and inappropriate application of the old
covenant in the age of the new. More strikingly, both sections focus
heavily on key OT Scriptures which bear on the
J. McDonald has perceptively suggested that these two sections form
the beginning and end of a midrashic homily, following Jewish con-
vention of citing a catena of texts at the start and climax of various
units of preaching material.37 Nevertheless, because Paul dwells re-
peatedly on so many themes close to his heart in this epistle--joy in
the midst of suffering, the blessing and comfort of God, his apostolic
authority and integrity, the appeal to the Corinthians to be reconciled
to him, to each other, and to God-what will be needed to defend the
detail of the proposed chiasmus is unique, verbal parallelism between
the various paired sections.
††††††††††† (3) In fact close verbal parallels do exist, pairing each of the main
sectjons of the outline with its counterpart. Paul's "boasting" in the
Corinthians and his urging them "to boast" in him are linked by the
repetition of kau<xhsij, kau<xhma, kauxa<omai, (1:12, 14; 7:14[2x]). The
sections on Paul's painful letter and the repentant excommunicant are
dominated by words for "grief"ólu<ph/lupe<w (2:1, 2[2x], 3[2x], 4,
5[2x], 7; 7:8[2x], 9[3x], 10[2x], 11).† 7:5-6 repeats the language of 2:13
very closely: e]ch?lqon ei]j Makedoni<an ("I went away into Macedonia")
becomes e]lqo<ntwn h[mw?n ei]j Makedoni<an ("after we came to Mace-
donia"), ou]k e@sxhka a@nesin tou? pneu?mati mou ("I had no rest in my
††††††††††† 35 G. Bomkamm, "The History of the Origin of the So-Called Second Letter to the
Corinthians," NTS 8 (1962) 259-60; R. Bultmann, De, zweite Brief an die Korinther
(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1976) 23; E. Best, Second Corinthians (In-
††††††††††† 36 R. Holstad ("Eine Hellenistische Parallele zu 2. Kor. 6,3ff.," ConNT 9 
22-27) and A. Fridrichsen, ("Zum Thema 'Paulus und die Stoa': Eine stoische Stil-
parallele zu 2. Kor. 4,8f.," ConNT 9  27-32) not only pointed out their similarity
to each other but also to Hellenistic catalogues of suffering, esp. in Diogenes and
Plutarch. The parallelism is made that much more obvious by the two articles' appear-
ing back-to-back in the same source!
††††††††††† 37 J.
2 Cor. 2:14-17 in Its Context," JSNT 17 (1983) 43-47.
12 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
spirit") is balanced nicely by ou]demi<an e@sxhken a@nesin h[ sa<rc h[mw?n
("our flesh had no rest"), and mh> eu[rei?n me Ti<ton ("my not finding
Titus") corresponds to e]n t^? parousi<% Ti<tou ("by the coming of
Titus"). The fourth pair of passages is connected somewhat more
loosely but the repetition of kardi<a ("heart"--3:1, 3, 15; 4:6; 6:11; 7:3),
parrhsi<a ("boldness"-3:12; 7:4), and qeou? zw?ntoj ("living God"-3:13;
6:16) are all worth noting. More significantly, both 4:6 and 6:14 contrast
"light" and "darkness" (fw?j, sko<toj). Sections E and E' are linked most
obviously by the catalogs of sufferings enumerated, but there is also
verbal parallelism in the introductory combinations of qlibo<menoi ou]
stenoxwrou<menoi ("being afflicted but not distressed"--4:8) and e]n
qli<yesin . . . e]n stenoxwri<aj ("in afflictions. . . in distresses--6:4).
††††††††††† (4) Only superficial familiarity with this epistle is required to
recognize that the terminology identified as parallel in each case
epitomizes central concerns of Paul rather than peripheral issues.38
††††††††††† (5) Not all of these terms and phrases are entirely unparalleled in
2 Cor 1:12-7:16, but overall their frequency in the sections paired as
opposites is significant. Paul's only other boasting comes in 5:12 and
7:4, and the former verse, in which both verbal and nominal forms
appear, falls in the center of the chiasmus, where one expects thoughts
from the "extremes" to be reiterated. In light of his seventeen uses of
this word group in chaps. 10-13, the relative infrequency of his
"boasts" in these opening chapters makes those references which do
occur that much more worthy of notice. The grief which dominates
1:23-2:11 and 7:8-13 never recurs elsewhere in chaps. 1-7, and only
once in the rest of the entire epistle (9:7). The phrases linking 2:13
with 7:5-6 are wholly unparalleled. As for D and D', "heart" re-
appears three times outside of the passages which are matched, but
the specific expressions for "boldness" and "the living God" are
unique. "Darkness" occurs nowhere else in 2 Corinthians; "light," only
in 11:14. "Tribulations" and "distresses," which link E and E', occur
elsewhere separately but never together, a fact all the more suggestive
since Paul pairs stenoxwri<a and qli<yij in two of its other three NT
occurrences (Rom 2:9; 8:35; diff. 2 Cor 12:101).
††††††††††† (6) The identification of five sections to each "half" of the chias-
mus clearly satisfies the criterion of multiple correspondences. Addi-
tionally, each pair has several features or several occurrences of the
same feature in common. In addition to the general headings and
specific linguistic details already listed, the following observations
††††††††††† 38 The most comprehensive work on the theology of 2 Corinthians remains K.
Prumm, Diakonia Pneumatos I-III (Freiburg: Herder, 1960-67). More briefly, cf.
M. Rissi, Studien zum zweiten Korintherbrief (Zurich: Zwingli, 1969).
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS ††††††13
lend further credence to the outline at the point where most proposals
fail--finding a plausible way to incorporate 6:14-7:1 into the larger
context. To begin with, 6:11-13 and 7:2-4 form an oft-noted unity, so
that if the intervening verses are not an interpolation, then 6:11-7:4
forms an aba' pattern itself.39 In both a and a' Paul pleads for the
Corinthians to open or widen their hearts to accept his friendship and
authority once again, reassuring them of his affection for them. He
thus "cushions the blow" which 6:14-7:1 would inevitably land, with
their stem injunctions to keep separate from all manner of evil.40 It is
even likely that the partnership with unrighteousness which is ap-
parently plaguing some in
are restrained in their response to Paul (6:12).41 But if they recognize
their status as God's children (6:18), and act morally as that status
demands, then they will be able to accept Paul's relationship to them
as a father to his spiritual children (6:13).
††††††††††† Not only does 6:14-7:1 thus have logical links with the verses
which frame it, but it also contains an internal chiasmus. Paul has
arranged his four OT citations in vv. 16-18 so that they begin and end
with verbally parallel promises of God (e@somai au]tw?n qeo>j kai> au]toi>
e@sontai mou lao<j ["I will be their God and they will be my peo-
ple"]/ e@somai u[mi?n ei]j pate<ra kai> u[mei?j e@sesqe moi ei]j ui[ou>j kai>
qugate<raj ["I will be father to you and you will be to me as sons and
daughters"]). In between, he sandwiches two conceptually parallel
imperatives: "come out from them and be separate" and "touch no
††††††††††† Interestingly, the passage opposite 6:11-7:4 also divides into a
careful chiastic pattem-abcb'a'. In 2:14-16a and 4:3-6 Paul contrasts
the two opposite fates of those who accept or reject the gospel--life
vs. death and light vs. darkness. The passages 2:16b-3:3 and 4:1-2
both compare the integrity 6f Paul's ministry with the deceit of the
false teachers. Paul needs no letters of "commendation" (3:1) because
he "commends" himself to everyone's conscience (4:2).42 In between,
3:4-18 explores the relationship between old and new covenants,
comparing the transient glory of the letter of the Law which kills with
the permanent glory of the Spirit of Christ which gives life. Thus in
††††††††††† 39 J. Lambrecht, "The Fragment 2 Cor vi 14-vii I: A Plea for Its Authenticity,"
Miscellanea Neotestamentica II (eds. T. Baarda, A. F. J. Klijn, W. C. van Unnik;
††††††††††† 40 Plummer, Second Corinthians, xxv; Hughes, Second Corinthians, 244.
††††††††††† 41 E.-B. Allo, Seconde epitre aux Corinthiens (Paris: Gabalda, 1956) 183; Harris,
"2 Corinthians," 303.
††††††††††† 42 On 4:1-6 as summarizing 2:15-3:18, see T. E. Provence, "'Who Is Sufficient for
These Things?' An Exegesis of 2 Corinthians ii 15-iii 18," NovT 24 (1982) 57.
14 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
2:14-4:6, Paul proceeds from an appeal for the Corinthians to accept
him because the Spirit of the living God written on their hearts is his
letter of recommendation, to a sharp contrast between the life-giving
Spirit and life-killing letter via exposition from the OT teaching on
new and old covenants, to the theological indicative that they are
being more and more conformed to Christ's likeness.43 Similarly, in
6:11- 7:4, Paul begins with an appeal for the Corinthians to accept him
into their hearts, moves on to a sharp contrast between Christ's be-
stowing righteousness and Belial's producing sin in the temple of the
living God, and concludes with the ethical imperative of perfection in
holiness. The similarity is sufficient to render unnecessary any recourse
to misplaced letters or major digressions.
††††††††††† (7) Every division in the proposed chiasmus appears as a major
or minor break in the Nestle-Aland Greek NT and is supported by
various commentaries.44 Not all command the consensus that 2:13 and
7:4 do, but if they did then the problem of the outline would already
have been solved! Much of the disagreement stems from the fact that
Paul's logic contains regular transitional paragraphs which can easily
be taken as either concluding a previous thought or beginning a new
thought, unless an overarching structure makes it clear what must fit
††††††††††† (8) The center of the chiasmus certainly creates a fitting climax.
Paul has already proclaimed to the Corinthians "Jesus Christ and him
crucified" as the heart of his gospel (1 Cor 2:2). No more appropriate
center for 2 Cor 1-7 could be found. Paul perseveres in his ministry
because he is convinced that "Christ died for all" (5:14), offering a
restored relationship between God and men (5:19), and enabling
those who are "in Christ" to become new creations (5:17). Like am-
bassadors, they in turn proclaim the forgiveness of sins to others
(5:20). Paul thus describes Jesus' ministry as one of reconciliation, a
ministry which then becomes the mandate of the believer once he is
reconciled to God (5:18-20). Verse 21 concludes this section with one
of the strongest statements of the substitutionary atonement in all of
††††††††††† 43 For more on the self-contained unity and structure of 2:14-4:6, see esp. J.
Lambrecht, "Structure and Line of Thought in 2 Cor 2, 14-4,6," Bib 64 (1983) 344-80.
Cf. also C. J. A. Hickling, "The Sequence of Thought in II Corinthians, Chapter
Three," NTS 21 (1974-75) 380-95.
††††††††††† 44 See e.g., Barrett (Second Corinthians, 51) for major breaks at 1:22; 2:13; 4:6;
5:10; and 5:21; Tasker (Second Corinthians, 30) for 2:11 and 6:10; and Harris ("2 Corin-
thians," 317) for 7:4., 13a, and 7:16.
††††††††††† 45 In three instances, the correspondences I have pointed out often fall in the
central parts of a given section as I have subdivided the text so that minor alterations in
the "seams" would 1eave the chiastic structure unaffected. Thus 1:23-24 could be taken
as the end of A, 1:15-22 as the start of B, or 6:1-2 as the end of F.
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS ††††††15
the NT: "for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that
in him we might become the righteousness of God."46
††††††††††† (9) There is no question of dislocation in the outline to ruin the
symmetry and weaken the hypothesis. Each member of the first part
of the chiasmus reappears in its proper place in the second.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† III. Implications of This Structure
††††††††††† The significance of identifying a chiastic outline as the structural
key to a given text in many ways differs little from that of any other
type of outline; it better enables the expositor to follow the author's
progression of thought and to emphasize the points which he empha-
sized and to subordinate those he subordinated.47 Additionally, how-
ever, certain unique features arise, three of which may be elaborated
††††††††††† (1) The climax of a chiasmus is its center, as already stressed.
Second Corinthians has often been viewed as one of Paul's less theo-
logical and more pastoral letters, primarily because the reply to his
spends a majority of his time dealing with his relationship with the
Corinthians and those who are opposing him. But in any piece of
writing, the main points are not necessarily those which appear most
often but which recur in the most strategic or emphatic positions in
the outline. This should cause one to think again about the significance
of 5:11-21 for 2 Cor 1-7. It would seem that a strong case can be
made for seeing these verses as containing the central point which
Paul was trying to make. Yes, Paul earnestly desires the Corinthians to
accept his authority and advice, but such acceptance can occur only
as they recognize their sin and acknowledge the one who became sin
to make them righteous. They must be transformed into new crea-
tures in Christ on the basis of his cross-work and reconciled to one
††††††††††† 46 Attempts to describe the NT's views on the death of Christ without employing
this concept remain truncated. See esp. J. I. Packer, "What Did the Cross Achieve? The
Logic of Penal Substitution," Tyndale Bulletin 25 (1974) 3-45. On 5:21 in particular,
Harris ("2 Corinthians," 354) offers these balanced comments: "it seems Paul's intent to
say more than that Christ was made a sin-offering and yet less than that Christ became
a sinner." Cf. M. Tolbert, "Theology and Ministry: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21," Faith and
human situation of despair and alienation that results from the reign of sin."
††††††††††† 47 See esp. W. C. Kaiser,
Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology (
1981); J. H. Hayes and C. R. Holladay, Biblical
1982), and note the comments on chiasmus, 73-74.
††††††††††† 48 In addition to the works cited in nn. 6 and 16 above, see R.E. Man, "The Value
of Chiasm for New Testament Interpretation," BSac 141 (1984) 146-57.
16 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
another as the hallmark of their ongoing ministry. And Christ' cruci-
fixion may not be separated from his resurrection. Paul's changed
attitude toward others is based on no longer knowing Christ as merely
human (5:16). Tellingly, each of these points seems to be precisely
what Paul's opposition in
vides the theological basis which alone can make possible the practi-
cal and pastoral solution to these conflicts. Whether or not Martin is
right in identifying "reconciliation" as the center of Pauline theology
as a whole,50 the strategic location of this topic in 2 Corinthians makes
it a strong candidate for the central theme of the major section of this
††††††††††† (2) The second most significant parts of a chiasmus are its outer
boundaries (A and A'), especially if their theme recurs in the center.
In 1:12-7:16, this theme emerged as proper and improper boasting.
The topic appears in the center of the chiasmus as well (5:11-12). The
dominant role of boasting in chaps. 10-13 confirms its central function
for Paul's relationship with the Corinthians and ties those chapters a
little more closely together with the preceding nine.51 Furthermore, it
places into perspective the specific problems with which Paul has to
deal en route--the penitent sinner, the right attitude to the apostolic
ministry, and victory in the midst of suffering. If the Corinthians are
hurting themselves and distorting the gospel via an overly-realized
eschatology leading to triumphalist ecclesiology,52 the opposite dan-
ger lurks not too far distant-an overemphasis on humility and suffer-
ing. Against both extremes 1:12 provides the proper antidote: "not by
earthly wisdom but by the grace of God," which alone enables the
††††††††††† 49 The standard work on Paul's opponents in Corinth remains D. Georgi, Die
Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1964). Geg-
ner sees proto-Gnostics behind the opposition addressed in 1 Corinthians and Hel-
lenistic Jewish Christian itinerants behind 2 Corinthians. For an approach which sees
more strictly Judaizing opposition, see esp. J. J. Gunther, St. Pauf s Opponents and
Their Background (SupplNT 35, Leiden: Brill, 1973). Quite possibly both sides infer
more than can be determined with certainty; see Furnish, II Corinthians, 48-54.
††††††††††† 50 R. P. Martin, Reconciliation: A Study of Paul's Theology
1981). On the problem of identifying such a center, see H. W. Boers, "The Foundations
of Paul's Thought: A Methodological Investigation--The Problem of the Coherent
††††††††††† 51 In fact, P. F. Ellis (Seven Pauline Letters [
140-41) plausibly suggests that all of 2 Corinthians was an original unity, in light of its
Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians (London: SPCK, 1987) 27.
††††††††††† 52 A. C. Thiselton, "Realized Eschatology at
C. L. Mearns, "Early Eschatological Development in Paul: The Evidence of 1 Corin-
thians," JSNT 22 (1984) 19-35; D. A. Carson, From Triumphalism to Maturity (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1984).
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS ††††††17
Corinthians to receive Titus in the godly "fear and trembling" with
which 7:15 concludes. "Boasting" as self-confidence is better than
despair, but it must be directed to the Lord rather than oneself. Yet,
as 5:11-13 elucidates, if one wants others to be proud of him in the
way God would be, one may need to act in a manner which makes
some think he is "out of his mind."
††††††††††† (3) The passages 6:14-7:1 and 2:14-7:4 need not be seen as
separate letters, quotations of other writings, or even significantly
digressive. The transitions between different parts of a chiasmus are
often fairly abrupt, some more so than others. The roughest transition
in the first half of 2 Cor 1-7, from 2:13-14, has been well explained by
S. Hafemann. Paul's failure to find Titus during his travels reminds him
of the triumphal procession of a Roman conqueror, leading his captives
behind him to their deaths.53 Far from looking ahead to later victory,54
Paul imagines himself as a prisoner soon to die (cf. the sacrificial
language in vv 15-16), but he is able to praise God anyway. Paul's
discussion then proceeds by catchwords. The letters of recommenda-
tion call to mind the letter of the Law; the glory of the Law was
represented by the glory on Moses' face, the veil which covered that
glory contrasts with unveiled reading of Scripture by Christians, and
so on.55 After the chiasmus of 2:14-4:6, Paul qualifies the victory
believers have in Christ with the enumeration of sufferings which
must precede their resurrection (4:7-5:10). But the reconciliation ac-
complished makes it all worthwhile (5:11-21).
††††††††††† The links between sections of the reverse sequence of the chias-
mus prove more tenuous, and the paralleled sectjons prove noticeably
shorter. But this is precisely what one should expect. Resumptive
discussions need not dwell on detail already treated at length. And as
the "second half" of a chiasmus unfolds, allusions to the corresponding
passages in the "first half" will naturally make successive sections seem
††††††††††† 53 S. J. Hafemann, Suffering and the Spirit (WUNT 2/19; Tubingen: Mohr, 1986)
84-85. Cf. P. Marshall, "A Metaphor of Social Shame: qriambeu<ein in 2 Cor 2:14," NovT
25 (1983) 302-17.
††††††††††† 54 As has usually been argued; see the survey of views in M. E. Thrall, "A Second
Thanksgiving Period in II Corinthians," JSNT 16 (1982) 102-11. As a variant of this
tradition, J. Murphy-O'Connor ("Paul and
2 Corinthians 2.13 and 2.14," JSNT 25  99-103) argues that the positive associa-
tions Paul had with churches
argues that Paul introduces a second thanksgiving (112-24), but it is not clear why Paul
would put it precisely at this point.
††††††††††† 55 See esp. J. A. Fitzmyer, "Glory Reflected on the Face of Christ (2 Cor 3:7-4:6)
and a Palestinian Jewish Motif," TS 42 (1981) 630-44. Cf. also G. Wagner,
la lettre, alliance de l'Espirit: Essai d'analyse de 2 Corinthiens 2/14 a 3/18," ETR 60
18 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
less apt in their immediate context and more reminiscent of earlier
material. Thus Paul resumes the discussion of his travels in 7:5 not so
much because he has finished an extended excursus but because he has
reached the appropriate point in his outline at which to do so. A similar
explanation undoubtedly accounts for at least part of the seeming
irrelevance of 6:11-7:4 to its context as well;56 Paul is again reflecting on
the OT concepts of glory and holiness to which he had devoted so
much of chap. 3. Although his first quotation in 6:16 draws on Lev
26:11-12, while 3:7-18 has been termed a midrash on Exodus 34,57 the
concepts involved are scarcely dissimilar. In terms of the historical
narrative of the Pentateuch the situation is unaltered from the earlier
passage to the later one: the Israelites remain encamped at Sinai,
receive the Law, and await their marching orders. Certainly the
concepts of living with
to separate from everything unclean encapsulate the most urgent parts
of the message which God had to deliver through Moses when he
.come from further on in the OT (2 Sam 7:14; Isa 52:11; and Ezek
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† IV. Objections Considered
††††††††††† I close by replying to three potential objections. First, is not an
intricate, artistic device like chiasmus incompatible with Paul's having
written 2 Corinthians as a deeply personal, emotional, and almost ad
hoc reply to those in
reflects the earlier view of chiasmus which largely limited its use to
meticulously structured works of poetry. But as already observed,
recent studies have shown that chiasmus had thoroughly permeated the
ancient Near East, and in fact some of the most difficult and elaborate
examples reflect moving Sitze im Leben.58 Literary style, including
††††††††††† 56 Great strides have been made in demonstrating the authenticity of 6:14- 7:1 and
its place within 6:11-7:4, but why Paul placed this section where he did has been less
adequately treated. Cf. G. D. Fee, "II Corinthians VI.14- VII. 1 and Food Offered to
Idols," NTS 23 (1977) 140-61; J. D. M, Derrett, "2 Cor 6, 14ff.: A Midrash on Dt 22, 10,"
Bib 59 (1978) 231-50; M. E. Thrall, "The Problem of II Cor. VI.14- VII.l in Some
Recent Discussion," NTS 24 (1978) 132-48; J. Murphy-O'Connor, "Relating 2 Corin-
thians 6.14-7.1 to Its Context," NTS 33 (1987) 272-75; idem, "Philo and 2 Cor 6:14-7:1,"
RB 95 (1988) 55-69. .
††††††††††† 57 See esp. A. T. Hanson, "The Midrash in II Corinthians 3: A Reconsideration,"
JSNT 9 (1980) 2-28. But cf. E. Richard, "Polemics, Old Testament, and Theology: A
Study of II Cor., III,1-IV,6," RB 88 (1981) 340-67, who points out how the new
covenant of Jeremiah is in fact the dominant topic throughout.
††††††††††† 58 One thinks e.g. of many of the psalms (cf. R. L. Alden, "Chiastic Psalms," JETS
11  11:28; 19  191-200; 21  199-210), the Book of Esther (cf. S. B.
††††††††††† Blomberg: THE STRUCTURE OF 2 CORINTHIANS †††††19
chiasmus, colored even such non-literary materials as Aramaic con-
tracts and Athenian inscriptions59 and thus is certainly compatible with
Paul's level of "occasional" writing. And Paul need not have had his
whole outline planned from the outset. He could well have reached the
end of chap. 5, knowing that he had left several topics unfinished along
the way, and then have chosen to elaborate them beginning with that
which he had treated most recently.
††††††††††† Second, if Paul has outlined these chapters chiastically, why has
he not used this device elsewhere for major sections of his epistles?
This objection overlooks the fact that 2 Cor 1-7 is unconventionally
structured vis-a-vis Paul's other writings regardless of what device
one utilizes to explain its structure; it applies with equal force to
outlines which resort to epistolary fragments and major digressions.
On the other hand, numerous smaller sections of Paul's letters un-
deniably do employ chiasmus.60 T. Shoemaker's recent analysis of
1 Cor 11:2-16 provides an excellent illustration.61 Moreover, at least
one complete letter, Philemon, seems to fall naturally into a sequence
of inverted parallelism.62 Remarkably, Philemon is the most occa-
sional and personal of all, of Paul's writings, so this would afford a
striking parallel to the chiastic outline of 2 Cor 1-7 if it were valid.
And in at least some instances it seems that Paul employs the simpler
††††††††††† Finally, if this is the true structure of 2 Cor 1-7, why has not
anyone ever noticed it before? Such a question, often resorted to
when all other debate reaches an impasse, misses the mark for at least
three reasons. First, it could equally be applied to many commen-
tators' outlines of these chapters since there is little agreement as to
why Paul is doing what he is doing. Second, as with most chiastic
The Book of Esther [
Solomon (cf. W. H. Shea, "The Chiastic Structure of the Song of Songs," ZAW 92
††††††††††† 59 B. Porten, "Structure and Chiasm in Aramaic Contracts and Letters," in Welch,
Chiasmus, 169-82; K. J. Dover, "The Colloquial Stratum in Classical Attic Prose,"
Classical Contributions (eds. G. S. Shrimp ton
and D. J. McCargar;
J. Augustin, 198i) 15-25. I am indebted to Dr. S.
Angeles, for this last reference.
††††††††††† 60 See esp. J. Jeremias, "Chiasmus in den Paulusbriefen," ZNW 49 (1958) 145-56.
uniformly persuasive are the various examples in
Marco, Chiasmo, 153-78; and J. W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the New Testament," in
Welch, Chiasmus, 213-90.
††††††††††† 61 T. P. Shoemaker, "Unveiling of Equality: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16," BTB 17 (1987)
††††††††††† 62 T. Boys, Tactica Sacra (London: T. Hamilton, 1824) 65-67.
††††††††††† 63 In addition to the examples scattered among the sources listed in n. 60 above,
see esp. Ellis, Letters, passim.
20 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
outlines, most of the building blocks have been observed by different
people at different times;64 what has been lacking was for someone to
recognize the whole and construct a synthesis. Third, and most sig-
nificantly, chiastic structures seldom appear unless one is looking for
them. By that I do not mean that they are all the inventions of overly
creative minds, imposing on the text a structure which was never
intended, though many proposed chiasms have been just that. Rather
I mean that what was almost universally accepted as an artistic
rhetorical and literary device and useful mnemonic aid in the Medi-
terranean cultures of antiquity has largely fallen into disuse in the
modern period so that commentators simply are not accustomed to
considering it. Yet even today, it has not disappeared; in some cases
one fails to see it because it is so natural. K. Bailey gives a delightful
example of a conversation he overheard between two young men,
who entirely without design asked each other four questions and then
answered them in inverse order: (l)=(A) "Are you coming to the
party?" (2)=(B) "Can I bring a friend?" (l)=(C) "Boy or girl?"
(2)=(D) "What difference does it make?" (l)=(D') "It is a matter of
balance." (2)=(C') "Girl" (l)=(B') "O.K." (2)=(A') "I'll be there."65
In Paul's case I suspect it was not nearly as subconscious but probably
almost as natural.
††††††††††† 64 See esp. ibid., 140-41; note also the links between 1:1-2:13 and 7:15-16 pointed
out by Georgi (Gegner, 22-23); and the incipiently chiastic outline of Barrett (Second
††††††††††† 65 Bailey, Poet and Peasant, 50.
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